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Re: The sanctions: a crime against humanity but not genocidal?

Hi Eric

Thanks for this feedback. Some points:

1) I'd say that 1 million out of a population of 20 million is a very high 
proportion. To me it's the proportion that matters - what proportion 
of gipsies did the Nazis kill compared to the proportion of Jews 

2) As to intent, I would argue that ignorance would be a defence but 
continuing with a policy knowing full well its outcomes would make 
any defence much more difficult. Mrs Albright's past 
acknowledgement of the human costs is highly significant.  

3) In English Law there has been a particular distinction made eg:
 - if someone is having a heart attack and you don't go and get 
them the pills, that you know will save them, then you are not guilty.
 - if in the above situation you deprive them of the pills then you are 

4) The problem in this case is pinning down the guilty parties.

In Iraq's case the Iraqi government would be innocent of this 'crime 
against humanity' even if it knowingly did not do what the UNSC 

The UNSC (or more particularly the US & the UK) are doing the 
depriving - therefore guilty!

I think that the increasing use of the term 'genocide' with respect to 
the sanctions on Iraq is due to:

1) the growing realisation of the sheer scale of the number of deaths
2) the perception that the US & UK have pursued their policies in 
the full knowledge of the numbers involved

> This is an difficult and emotive subject. 
> The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of 
> Genocide defines genocide as 'any of the following acts 
> committed with intent to destroy, in whole or part, a 
> national , ethical, racial or religious group: (a) Killing 
> members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental 
> harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting 
> on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about 
> its physical destruction in whole or part; (d) imposing 
> measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) 
> forcibly transferring children of the group to another 
> group.' 
> This is a highly premissive definition (eg how small a part 
> of that group? One person?) which goes well beyond the 
> popular conception based on the Holocaust faced primarily 
> by the Jews by the Nazis. In particular, people usually 
> think primarily of genocide primarily in terms of mass 
> killing in order to eliminate a particular group as 
> completely as possible. 
> A central issue of interpretation is 'intent': even if the 
> sanctions are having the effect of destroying the Iraqi 
> nation in whole or in part, the sanctions supporters deny 
> that that is their intent (and indeed argue that they are 
> trying to prevent such destruction).
> In the terms of the Convention, to say that the sanctions 
> are genocidal in effect even if not in intent is just 
> incoherent, as the Convention defines genocide in relation 
> to intent.
> For analysis of the conceptual and legal relationship 
> between 'genocide' and the increasingly widespread 
> term 'ethnic cleansing', see Natan Lerner, 'Ethnic 
> Cleansing' in Yoram Dinstein (ed.), Israeli Yearbook on 
> Human Rights, 24, (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 
> 1995) 103-117 and Drazen Petrovic, 'Ethnic Cleansing - An 
> Attempt at Methodology', European Journal of International 
> Law (1994) 5: 342-59.
> The most important point in my view here is that whether or 
> not one calls the sanctions genocidal is not an issue if 
> indisputable fact but an irresolvable one of interpretation 
> and values. My values and my interpretation lead me to not 
> call the sanctions genocidal. I prefer to stick to 'crime 
> against humanity'. But I do not think that that somehow 
> closes the issue. It is perfectly understandable that some 
> might decide that what is meant by genocide has changed or 
> should change. Indeed, I am open to persuasion that this is 
> so. There are good arguments on both sides of this.
> I hope that this is of some value.
> Best wishes
> Eric

Mark Parkinson

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